Fuel prices pose hit in FY 2023 county budget

Published 8:00 am Wednesday, May 18, 2022

The Troup County Board of Commissioners offered a preliminary look of what the FY 2023 budget will look like – specifically how rising prices in areas like fuel will affect the budget. A public hearing will be held for citizens to comment on the budget at the county’s regular meeting on May 24. The budget will be approved on June 7.

The FY 2022 budget was approximately $47.7 million. Due to an increase in expenses, the FY 2023 budget is currently sitting at approximately $49.8 million – nearly $2 million more in expenses.

The rising cost in fuel has put the most strain on the county’s budget, County Manager Eric Mosley said Tuesday, noting a 10-cent increase he witnessed in only one day.  Currently, the county estimates that Troup County consumers could be paying as much as $4.65 a gallon by August.

“It could be a huge issue for our police and fire department,” he said.

Troup County Fire Chief Strickland said Tuesday his department was already making internal adjustments to address this issue. He said his staff was cutting down on “idle time” while in emergency vehicles to cut back on gas, and cutting back on non-emergency calls. He said, should fuel prices continue to rise, firetrucks may not leave the station outside of emergency situations.

Another increased expense that will be mirrored in the budget is inmate medical expenses. County documents show the county paid in $167,500 in FY 2022 for Troup County imates, including $5,000 in medical and dental expenses, $122,500 for combined housing fees and $29,000 for general inmate supplies. This amount is not yet set to change in FY 2023.

“[As inmate medical expenses at the jail] continue to skyrocket and we’re doing our best to hold that back,” Mosley said. “We’re continuing to have conversations with our provider, the sheriff’s office [and] the DA’s office to manage those funds.”

The county’s budget will implement an updated pay study from January 2021, which will include a $2.6 million increase to the budget. The county’s budget will additionally reflect a 2.5% increase in the cost of living for county employees as well as incorporated part-time employees. This change will go into effect in January.

“We’re underpaying [them] and need to come closer to what our adjacent communities pay,” Mosley said.

Other expenses include pay raises for those working in the public defender’s office, a $140,000 increase.

Revenue changes, or the amount the county collects, include a reduction of the county’s millage rate. The county voted to reduce the millage rate by three-quarters of a mill, or $2 million, at its May 3 meeting. Another revenue change comes from increased sales taxes, which are reflected in the county’s SPLOST fund. County documents show $20,763,944 are expected to be available in FY 2023 SPLOST V funds.

“As costs increase, sales taxes increase,” Mosley offered as an explanation. “Inflation is certainly causing that revenue increase.”

There has also been a decrease in the county’s judicial administration fees and fines. Six new positions were incorporated in the budget, including four new deputies for the Troup County Sheriff’s Office, essentially one new deputy a shift. According to county documents, public safety will account for 46.32%, or $23.1 million, of the county’s overall expenses. This expense increased over $2 million from the FY 2022 budget. Additional positions include an accountant for the county and a new full-time position in the elections department.

Copies of the budget will soon be available at the county’s public libraries for review and online on the Troup County website.